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Experiences in Asia

Rendezvous with the V.C.

VIETNAM | Wednesday, 30 November 2005 | Views [792] | Comments [1]

Hello all. I have had a great last fews days in Hanoi. Ian and I have spent most of our time in the old quarter where most of the museums, cultural sites and other interesting things are to be found.

We are staying in the centre of the old quarter, which has maze after maze of old streets, which are god knows how old. Behind some doors there are temples and holy sites which can be visited. Then there are the tiny family run restaurants that spill out on to the narrow streets, while women with the baskets on the end of shoulder poles briskly walk around, trying to sell fruit and other things that they might have got a hold on.The last two mornings we have got up quite early to get into one of the restaurants, order a huge hot baguette with pate, cheese and veg, along with a Vietnamese coffee (so strong, with congealed milk in the bottom, which you have to stir and stir to get life into it) to just watch the natives pass by. It is so easy to see that this is how it has been for some time - just ignore the fact that I am in an internet cafe around the corner!

On our first night in town, we wandered into an alley, which had a restaurant selling a local brew that they had named Hanoi beer. It was coming out of a tap that they had rigged to a bucket. Not being put off with this, Ian and I ordered two mugs and sat down. In all fairness, it was no Stella. It was a warm, very sweet beer, that was also very strong. It was awful. On the next table were two or three men in their 50's, who were obviously well on their way. We were soon trying to communicate, pointing and this and that and asking what they were, the Vietnamese asking how much different things cost, and where we were from. One man had a huge tattoo on his arm, which was done with Indian ink, and had two rifles, with an eagle. In big letters in the centre were "V.C". We pointed and asked him whether he was in the war. He very enthusiastically told us that he was VC. Very impressed with this, we tried to ask him more questions about the war, but most of it was lost in translation. All through town at the moment there are huge posters lauding the victory over the, "American aggressors and their lackeys", pictures depicting huge socialist arms swatting away B52s, with the people of Vietnam cheering on. It really is something to see, and the style of the pictures really does hammer home that this is a socialist state, and proud to be so.

Yesterday we hired bikes and cycled around town. Im not sure if this was a good idea, because Hanoi's roads can only be summed up in one word: Mayhem! There are so many bikes on the roads at one time, with hardly any road markings, and the pedestrian crossings are a joke. The unwritten rule is that you are to edge out slowly INTO traffic (it will be coming both ways). The drivers will see this and turn to avoid you. Slowly but surely, you will make it to the other side. On our first junction, Ian's pedal bike got clipped by a scooter, but fortunately, this was the only sticking point, and we had a good time following the natives, having a particularly interesting time cycling past Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum, visiting the womens museum, and stopping off every now and again for a glorious coffee.

Today, we booked a tour to Hai long bay, which will be fantastic. It is a UNESCO heritage site, where there are thousands of little islands surrounded by turquoise waters. We will be staying on a boat and relaxing on the beach and sight seeing. To see what the tour is all about, click here. I think there should be some great picture shots.

Today we will go to the Hanoi Hilton, which is the prison camp that housed American prisoners. Tonight, it's off to see that water puppets - should be interesting!

Early tomorrow morning I'm off on the tour for three days, so I'll check in with you in when I get back............!

Tags: Adventures

Comments

1

I want to drink awful Hanoi beer.^^

  jane Nov 30, 2005 11:59 PM

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